The Making of the Middle Ages
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"The power of Southern's prose, the breadth of his imaginative vision, the controlled enthusiasm...there is no questioning the greatness of The Making of the Middle Ages" (The Times Literary Supplement)
"He steps at once into the front rank of historians...This is the work of a man with a rare historical gift and the imagination to recreate the world of which he writes...One of the most exciting books of history to appear in recent years" (The Economist) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
'The power of Southern's prose, the breadth of his imaginative vision, the controlled enthusiasm...there is no questioning the greatness of The Making of the Middle Ages.' The Times Literary Supplement
The subject of this book is nothing less than the formation of western Europe from the late tenth to the early thirteenth century. During these years the economic face of Europe and its position in the world were transformed. Civilisation, as we understand it today, was born. Although the period witnessed great historical events, such as the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099 and of Constantinople by their successors in 1204, the most significant events are often the obscure ones and the most significant utterances are often those of men withdrawn from the world and speaking to the very few. It is his understanding of these events and these utterances that makes Professor Sir Richard Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages the acknowledged masterpiece among histories of the period.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'He steps at once into the front rank of historians...This is the work of a man with a rare historical gift and the imagination to recreate the world of which he writes...One of the most exciting books of history to appear in recent years.' The Economist
Top customer reviews
This book is no exception. It is a reasonably short book - only some 250 pages, and originally published in 1953. It covers five main headings:
Latin Christendom and its neighbours
The bonds of society
The ordering of the Christian life
The tradition of thought
From epic to romance
The chapters cover, in the period from the late tenth to the early thirteenth centuries, the geographical growth and establishment of duchies and states, man's status in this growing society, the Christian way of life and its manifestations, the growth of (re)learning and growing knowledge and erudition, and the translation of all this into a new humanity that moved into the thirteenth century.
Highly recommended - it is probably an advantage to have prior knowledge, but a keen reader will find much to delight in this book, and it will most certainly awaken an interest in further research into what is not already familiar.
Readers younger than me might find his style over formal, but he is always clear. Occasionally, it shows its age. For example, his comparison of monks with the army no longer holds now that there is no national service.
Be aware, though, that this is not meant as an introduction. It does assume that you have a basic knowledge of the Medieval History of Europe. If you don't know who Hildebrand is, you'll probably struggle.
The greatest thing about a book like this is how it encourages you to put all the pieces together like a jigsaw. You need to be thinking about how all the different parts interlink in order to get the most out of it and Southern, in this book, makes sure to give you a helpful nudge in the right direction.
A tip for anyone who doesn't already do this that will help you knit the pieces together more easily, and, in some cases make the whole event even more enjoyable as you go, is to get up a map on your laptop as you read. It's fascinating to get a bearing on all the different trade routes and names for places that are a distant memory in Modern Europe. Enjoy the journey through a new and exciting landscape, The Making Of The Middle Ages.
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